Monthly Archives: November 2008

Launching 4.0: Realigning personal websites with Web 2.0

The phrase “Web 2.0” means lots of different things depending on thecontext, and people disagree about what exactly that term even means.But one thing I take it to mean is the fragmentation of information onthe internet that was enabled by RSS feeds and then by the networkingof content and accounts.

This fragmentation, or distribution to put it in perhaps a betterlight, means that instead of having one pamphletware homepage, evencasual internet users often have at least one or two other places wherecontent is stored and updated online and, more significantly, wheretheir identity is updated. Do you use Facebook?Flickr? sites all have content that elaborates on your identity, and ifthat content is not at least accessible from your homepage, then it’snot attached to you.

I like messing with web technology, so my own homepage has gone throughdozens of iterations from many flat HTML pages to my most recentcustomized PmWiki installation. But inthe last year or two I have come to use so many other sites fordifferent purposes that much of my content is not posted on my ownsite. For instance, like lots of other people, the more I tweet, the less I blog on myown site. And now that I found Posterous,which lets me post to a blog by email, I’ve stopped posting to my ownblog altogether.

So tonight I embraced the inevitable fragmentation of the 21st Centuryinternet, despite the efforts of social aggregators like Friendfeed, Swurl and Socialthing, and Irecalibrated my website as aportal, almost a placeholder, with links to the other sites where Iupdate content. In effect, It’s back to a pamphletware site, but linkedto much more dynamic sites than I imagined when I had my first page in1994.

Embrace the fragmented web. New ways of distributing contentnecessitate new ways of displaying it. Welcome to the web 2.0 homepage:

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Beautiful Euro coin designed by Linux geek

Linux boffin and designer Stani Michiels won a recent competition inthe Netherlands to design a special 5 euro commemorative coin payingtribute to the history of Dutch architecture. Designed entirely withopen source software on Linux, Stani’sdesign is truly beautiful, evocative, and deeply geeky.

The front of the coin shows the Queen, as required, but her image iscomposed of the names of Dutch archictects:


The back of the coin has a circle of books by Dutch architects:


The meaning of the back side of the coin won’t be clear to those of usunfamiliar with Dutch geography, but I gather from Stani’ssite that the space in the middle of the coin, between the books,is the shape of the Netherlands, with the birds flying above eachprovincial capital.

Idea for killer feature

I’ve been a user of Diigo since itslaunch, and I use itall the time as my regular social bookmarking tool. It has embracedsome social media features, but it has one major limitation that Ithink could be fixed now: annotations on pages are generally onlyvisible to other Diigo users. Now, I know I can go into my Diigo account andfind a special url for any of my links that includes the javascript toshow my annotations to any user. But wouldn’t it be fantastic to makeannotations and know that others users would just see them?

So here’s my idea: Diigo should provide either a bookmarklet or abutton on their toolbar or Diigolet bar that will send not the link tothe original page, but the link to the special Diigo annotated urlto Twitter. “Tweet Annotated Page”. Or, better yet, to (or, even better — the choice).With a tool like this, users could annotate a page when the inspirationstrikes and immediately distribute those annotations to their entiresocial network.

Diigo is already a fantastic tool for social bookmarking, but itsstandout feature is web annotation. This would make that key feature somuch more useful and accessible to existing users and would exposethose who are not regular Diigo users to the possibilities. And I don’tthink there are many in the social media multiverse who can resist thesiren song of web page annotation.

TC1100 Tablet on The Daily Show

On Tuesday’s episode of the Daily Show, in John Oliver’s hilarioussegment on CNN’s touch sensitive wall of power, John visits JeffHan, the mastermind behind the wall. Here’s a screen capture of JeffHan from that segment:


That’s right — he uses the same computer that I use, the HP TC1100tablet! A now-older but totally awesome machine with a perfect formfactor that nobody else makes now… other than the OLPC XO.

Obama administration keeps reaching out

I was on the Obama campaign’s very large mailing list before theelection. Now that he has been elected, there has been speculation asto how he will use the social network that developed around hiscampaign. Well, I just got this email from David Plouffe, Obama’scampaign manager, who writes:

You’vebuilt an organization in your community and across the countrythat will continue to work for change — whether it’s by buildinggrassroots support for legislation, backing state and local candidates,or sharing organizing techniques to effect change in your neighborhood.

Your hardwork built this movement. Now it’s up to you to decide how we moveforward.

Take thisshort survey and share your ideas:

Wow — we’ve come a long way!

Fake New York Times Distributed

I love this story of a massive hoax, in which a million copiesof a fake version of the New York Times from the future (July 4, 2009)are distributed for free on the streets of New York. The fake paper,available online here and inpdf form here,comes complete with lead story IraqWar Ends, editorials,lettersto the editor, advertising, moreadvertising, and corrections.It presents a progressive, leftist fantasy of the world.

It even has an article ostensibly by Thomas Friedman titled TheEnd of the Experts, which begins,

Thesudden outbreak of peace in Iraq has made me realize, among otherthings, one incontestable fact: I have no business holding a pen, atleast with intent to write.

Awesomely, the website has real, working comment sections below thearticles, sure to attract trolls from across the intertubes. The paperwas created by a group called the YesMen. It will go down in history as one of the greatpranks of all time.

It’s interesting to think of the timing of it, coming out right afterObama’s election and liberal gains across the country. The paper hasbeen a year in the making. On the heels of Obama’s victory, it carriesa message of hope. If John McCain had won the election, it wouldinstead have been bitter satire.

Now, let the lawsuits begin! I see claims for trade-mark and copyrightinfringement, a publicity/privacy/personality action for the ThomasFriedman thing (and probably others)… And note that it’s not just upto the real NYTimes to have a senseof humour about this and refrain from suing the Yes Men: each of thecompanies with fake ads in the fake paper could also sue them. plays it forward

I’m not sure I can even remember how I heard about it — probably on Twitter or identica — but two months ago I signed up to get a “mystery starter kit” from a startup called Akoha. I finally received that package yesterday and got my first peek into an exciting new concept in gaming that has potential to actually improve your world.

Here’s how it works. I have an account on Akoha, and they send me a deck of cards — actual, real world cards, but they also show up in my account on the website. Each card is a “mission” and has a unique code. The missions are all nice things I can do, like buy somebody coffee, give someone a book, donate my time, or make somebody smile. When I do one of these things, I’ve paid it forward, and I give the person the card. Then either of us can go on and register that mission and include information about it including geocoding it on a Google Maps mashup.

If the person already had an Akoha account, then the mission card gets added to their account and they can play it forward to somebody else! If they didn’t have an account already, then they can use the code on the card to create an account, which entitles them to their own deck so they can spread the love. Either way, you can watch where your missions travel and how many people they affect.

It’s a simple and brilliant concept that uses gaming as a platform for paying mitzvahs forward, and online tools to create real world change.

Dictator-in-Training at World Series Parade

This man reached his political peak early, and will likely spend the rest of his life trying to get back to that time when crowds unthinkingly obeyed his every command.

President-Elect Obama’s Transition Website


One of the bright points of Obama’s campaign was his well documented, very savvy use of the web not only to raise funds but to organize his ground game. That innovative use of technology continues with his transition into power, with a transition website launching the day after the election. Visit, and consider how quickly it was set up, and that it is a .gov site, for which an organization must have official status as part of the US government. This administration clearly prioritizes technology and communication.

Interestingly, however, despite the success of his campaign site’s social network, does not seem to have any membership or networking capabilities. Yet.

CNN faked their "holograms"!

Just when we were starting to have our faith in the system restored, the fifth estate pulls one over on us. It is being reported that the technology CNN claimed was bringing holograms into the studio was actually nothing of the sort.

At about 7 p.m. EST, reporter Jessica Yellin, who was in Chicago, spoke with New York-based anchor Wolf Blitzer live “via hologram,” CNN said.

Yellin appeared somewhat fuzzy and her image, apparently projected a few feet in front of Blitzer, appeared to glow around the edges. “You’re a terrific hologram,” Blitzer said to her.

“It’s like I follow the tradition of Princess Leia,” she said, referring to the Star Wars character.

Yellin explained that her image was being filmed in Chicago by 35 high-definition cameras set in a ring inside a special tent, which were processed and synchronized by 20 computers to the cameras in the New York studio.


The CNN anchors were not really speaking to three-dimensional projected images, but rather empty space, Kreuzer said. The images were simply added to what viewers saw on their screens at home, in much the same way computer-generated special effects are added to movies.

Whaaa? Wolf was just *pretending* to be speaking to a hologram in the studio? And nobody thought this was just a little bit dishonest?

The technology does exist to display a 3d image of a person in real life, as was demonstrated when Prince Charles earlier this year as a recording was beamed onto a stage in Abu Dhabi. In that case, he chose to appear by hologram to save the estimated 20 tons of carbon waste that would have been generated if he and his entourage traveled there and, after all, it was the World Future Energy Summit. Prince Charles was not speaking live at the event, but on a recording taken months earlier.

When CNN brought in Jessica Yellin via the alleged hologram, I pointed out that the technology was useful to have a person (like the Prince) appear before a crowd of people who can see him in real life. But, I said, as long as virtually all of the audience is watching it on TV, they might as well just project the image onto the video feed instead of into the studio to then be captured on video.

And that’s apparently exactly what they did.


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